Examining The Hospitality Industry Six Stigma Information Technology Essay

The hospitality industry consists of broad category of fields within the service industry that includes lodging, restaurants, event planning, theme parks, cruise line, and additional fields within the tourism industry is a several billion dollar industry that mostly depends on the availability of leisure time and disposable income. A hospitality unit such as restaurant, hotels or even an amusement park, kitchen workers, bartenders, management, and human resources.

The hospitality industry covers a wide range of organizations offering food service and accommodation. The hospitality industry is divided into sectors according to the skill- sets required for the work the work involved. Sectors include accommodation, food and beverage, meeting and events, gaming, entertainment and recreation, tourism services, and visitor information.

Competition and usage rate is an important viable for the hospitality industry. Just as a factory owner would wish to have his or her productive asset in use as much as possible, so do restaurants, hotels and theme parks seek to maximize the number of customers they process in all sectors. This led to formation of services with the aim to increase usage rate provided by hotel consolidators. Information about required or offered products is brokered on business networks used by vendors as well as purchase. Very important is also the characteristics of the personnel working in direct contact with the customers. The authenticity, professionalism, which is communicated by successful organizations, is a clear competitive advantage.

Six Sigma

The concept “Six Sigma” at many organizations simply means a measure of quality that strives for near perfection. Six Sigma is disciplined, data – driven approach and methodology for eliminating defects from any manufacturing to transactional and from product to service.

The statistical definition representation of Six Sigma describes quantitatively how the process is performing. To achieve “Six Sigma”, a process must not produce more than 3.4 defects per million opportunities. A Six Sigma defect is defined as anything outside of customer specifications. A Six Sigma opportunity is then the total quantity chances for a defect. Process sigma can easily be calculated using a Six Sigma calculator.

The fundamental objective of the Six Sigma methodology is the implementation of a measurement – based strategy that focuses on process sigma improvement projects. This is accomplished through the use of two Six Sigma methodologies: DMADV and DMAIC. The DMAIC process is an improvement system for existing processes falling below specification and looking for incremental improvement. The DMADV process is an improvement system used to also be employed if a current process requires more than just incremental improvement. Both Six Sigma processes are executed by Six Sigma GREEN BELTS and Six Sigma BLACK BELTS, and are supervised by Six Sigma MASTER BLACK BELTS.

The Six Sigma is a total management commitment and philosophy of excellence, customer focus, process improvement, and the rule of measurement rather than a wrong feeling. It believes in making every area of the organization which is better able to meet the changing needs of the customer, markets and technologies. It also includes benefits for employees, customer, and shareholders. In other words Six Sigma means the process or product will perform will almost zero defects.

According to “Six Sigma” the word belt refers to the level or the position, of a person in an organization at the time of execution of a work or at the time of implementation of a project. There are 3 major levels of belts.

Six Sigma Green Belt

The Six Sigma green belt operator works under the supervision of a Six Sigma black belt operator. He/she analyzes and solves quality problems. This in turn helps in improvement of the quality of projects. The green belt should be the person who has at least three years of work experience and who wants to show his or her knowledge of Six Sigma tools and processes.

Six Sigma Black Belt

The black belt program helps in explaining the details of Six Sigma tools like Minitab and Specialized Statistical Software. It provides descriptive knowledge of Six Sigma philosophies and principles which also includes the supporting systems and the Six Sigma tools also. The black belt certified professional excels team leadership, understands team responsibilities. The person should have a complete understanding of the DMAIC model in relation with the Six Sigma principles. This program combines concepts, assignments, tips case studies and exams. The person clearing these exams is issued a certificate of a Six Sigma black belt holder or expert.

Six Sigma Master Black Belt

The professional who successfully complete master black belt certifications are the true quality experts of Six Sigma. This certification is given after two week of black belt certification. It focuses on advanced Six Sigma statistical methods which are used in Six Sigma projects. The master black belt professionals assist both belts in prioritizing, selecting and charting high impact projects.

In addition to typical black belt, some other methods used in Six Sigma are the complete study of multi-experiments, nonparametric analysis, destructive testing, handling attribute responses, practical experimentation, optimization experiments, handling multi-response experiments, distributional analysis, advanced regression methods and advanced SPC methods.

Methodologies Of The Six Sigma

Many frameworks exist for implementing the Six Sigma methodology. Six Sigma consultants all over the world have developed proprietary methodologies for implementing Six Sigma qualities, based on the similar change management philosophies and applications of tools. Six Sigma is accomplished through the use of two Six Sigma methodologies: DMADV and DMAIC.

DMADV

DMADV is one of the most important methodologies of the Six Sigma system. The Six Sigma system is a tool to improve processes in work and manufacturing and its main goal to exclude defects. Six Sigma has been used by many big corporations with very good results and also can be used in small organizations to achieve their goals. In other words Six Sigma means that it is a set of practices that improve efficiency and helps to remove defects. The steps followed by DMADV are as follows:

Define: in this first step the person must define the design goals which is consistent with the customer’s demands and the company goals

Measure: in this step four things should be measured carefully that is critical to qualities, production process capability, risk assessments and product capabilities.

Analyze: the process of analysis helps to develop and design better scope to reduce the defects. These designs should be analyzed for its best capabilities to determine whether the design is the best available or whether an alternative can be created which may be better.

Design details: in this step a design must be created in such a way that it should functions at its peak. The design must usually be verified. During the verification the design plan should be readied for the next step.

Verification: once a design has been analyzed, it should be sent for verification. Verification usually occurs through pilot runs. As the verification is done the file is ready for full production.

DMAIC

It is a basic component of the Six Sigma methodology which is used to improve efficiency and eliminate defects. It is normally said as a set of practices that improve efficiency and eliminate defects. The steps followed by DMAIC are as follows:

Define: this is the first step in the process. In this step, it is important to define specific goals in achieving that are consistent with both the customer’s demands and business’s strategy. In other words to say that this step is laying down a road map for accomplishment.

Measure: this step is used to make the accurate measurements and relevant data should be collected so that the future comparisons can be measured to determine whether or no defects have been reduced.

Analyze: this is an important step as it is used to determine relationships and the factors of causality.

Improve: this helps in making improvements or optimize the processes based on measurements and an analysis that tell about the defects that are lowered and processes are streamlined.

Control: this is the last step for the DMAIC methodology. Controls ensure that any deviations from target are corrected before they result in defects. They can be in the form of pilot-runs to determine if the processes in the production are capable. Control mechanisms are put in place to continuously monitor the process. When the data is collected, a process can transition into standard production. There should be a continued measurement and analysis must ensure to keep processes on track and the problem is free of defects below the Six Sigma limit.

Six Sigma And Hospitality Industry

In a the hospitality industry which deals with non stop customers this kind of methodology can create increased productivity and satisfaction in the ways of an increase in customer loyalty, reduction in the turnover of an employee, costs reduction, reduction in losses due to billing error, increase in the total revenue, balance between the employee’s work life. In the hospitality the Six Sigma is calculated by two methods that is DMADV and DMAIC. The hotel industry is the biggest arena for the hospitality industry. The success of the Six Sigma depends completely upon the satisfaction of the customers which may consists upon some of the major aspects relates to the increase in the information accuracy, reduction in the check inns/check outs during the peak times, reducing the billing errors, reduction in the amount of the no shows, standardized cleaning procedures and policies.

(CHAPTER 2): REVIEW OF LITERATURE

“Six Sigma is a methodology, or strategy, to improve processes” (Alison Hall).

The “Six Sigma” is used by hotels for example ITC, Starwood, Marriott etc. Six Sigma was created to measure and improve quality so that it should reduce the number of “defects” per million “opportunities”. “By measuring, the quality gets fuzzy with things such as meetings. It’s not something that goes in the machine and comes out from the other end.” (Alison Hall). The sigma project is very process oriented. Six Sigma helps the companies choose some interesting paths. In hospitality many important projects never get the requisite investment because of the capital budget challenges in the industry.

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“Everyone has projects they know need to get done to achieve forecasted growth, but can’t seem to get corporate approval. Six Sigma specialists are trained to qualify benefits and long- term effects on revenues and profitability – they can get those vital projects off the ground.” (Wolfgang Ebenbichler). There is a conflict between operations teams who want project requisition investment and Six Sigma teams. The conflicts get more stressed when black belt stay focused for months and sometimes even they stay for year’s dash boarding the results. The seriousness of conflict is based on the underlying intuitive business management character of people in hospitality. Six Sigma is a methodology that seeks to understand the causes and effects of quality breakdowns. The team participating in Six Sigma is taught how to use techniques and tools to judge and determine change value and this is measured against cost change. In others words it’s a suggestion box program.

Six Sigma Implementation Roles

The methodology of Six Sigma is equipped with many roles. When the topic comes for implementation of Six Sigma, the lean experts would agree to the following roles which should be included in the implementation team:

Executive Leadership: Those assuming the role of executive leadership are typically the top level executives who hold the primary responsibility for supervising the implementation of Six Sigma from start to finish (finishing referring to when a goal is met).

Champions: Those who are assuming the Champion role are typically members of upper management. Champions are responsible for the implementation of Six Sigma in the organization.

Master Black belts: These people are chosen by the Champions to coach others within the group of those working in the implementation of the Six Sigma methodologies.

Black belts: These people are typically members of middle management who are primarily responsible for executing the six sigma plan of action.

Green belts: These people are responsible for helping the Black Belts to execute projects while simultaneously attending to their own specific job responsibilities.

Yellow belts: Yellow belts represent everyone else on the six sigma implementation team (and in some cases throughout the whole organization).

There are no universal rules which govern the Six Sigma implementation structure. Making changes to theses prescribed roles is up to the discretion of the individual organizations and their unique methods. Six Sigma is regarded as the esteem of the company i.e. an idea dedicated in enhancing quality and encouraging improvement. However, what is of crucial importance is that the concept of Six Sigma is appreciated and judged by each member in the organization. It is applicable for all the people without any exception ranging from the senior management through all stakeholders to all employees in the organization.

Greatest commitments are determined for the execution of quality into an organization. Each individual who is working in the organization, irrespective of his/her position, should bear the obligations for its quality and weaknesses either. As a result the whole team of co workers ought to develop a complete awareness of Six Sigma and its quality approach as well. The selection can easily be defined as the top down process, still the chances has to determine further improvement can be found everywhere and as a consequence they require bottoms up manner so that they may rise the potential with the view in obtaining benefits offered by Six Sigma.

Six Sigma along with quality management, provides employee with an individual perusing of a successful path and generate a lot of extra motivation in co- workers. Barely, there is a great range of the roles and the assignment which is included in the levels in the Six Sigma which has to be taken on. These levels are named as “belts” and as regards its color,” e.g. for Asian martial arts it defines the degree.

Belts are divided in three categories: black belt, green belt and yellow belt. The first level consists of managers who are capable of excellent comprehension of Six Sigma culture and managing Six Sigma project. the type consist of the junior quality managers who are capable of understanding the Six Sigma concept and its tools well and serve projects in raising quality at the workplace. The last type refers to each and every employee who can understand the fundamental concept of quality defects and variations. They have a very broad minded that they are ready to make any changes in daily process.

It is also feasible noticing the specifics which can differ from company to company due to that fact that those companies depend on the company culture as well. In addition to the technical skills many people with soft skills in communication and people managements are also demanded with the aim of handling Six Sigma projects with the long term success. Not only have the experts in the Six Sigma but also the champions are needed to be engaged in the projects. They should show responsibility for carrying out assessment of risks and doing the reward evaluation for each and every project. In addition to the tasks being given to the champions they also have too fulfill the needs of accomplished resources in order to achieve the projects. Champions are of the utmost importance due to the reason that they are liable for selecting the best projects. Further more these people have the fundamental significance in imposing implementation of Six Sigma within the company.

Benefits Of Six Sigma To A Company

The Six Sigma is a set of tools that a company can use to operate in an angled way, with less of wastage and higher proficiency. Following the Six Sigma methodology can have many benefits including decreased costs, increased revenues, increased morale and better workflow. The benefits of Six Sigma are as follow:

Decreased costs: One of the benefits of Six Sigma is that it leads to decreased costs. The business which follows the Six Sigma approach is focused on quality. This is a result that the business improves its processes to prove every product or service that is delivered to a customer is of the best possible quality. This mindset erases defective products, incomplete products and other waste. It also includes the replacement of products. There is an involvement of improved processes which can create better products, the expenses of production also decreases.

Increased revenues: Six Sigma allows a company to increase its revenues there are several key drivers for the increased revenues. Since a Six Sigma company produces products which are higher in quality, customer satisfaction increases. In addition, the companies keep a loyal customer base and its positions itself as a competitor in its industry, drawing in new customers. With decreased costs and increased revenues a company can realize higher profit margins, which is good for both external stakeholders.

Improved morale: Incorporating Six Sigma also benefits employees in that it increases their morale and makes the employees empowered. Since Six Sigma is a philosophy adopted by the whole organization as it allows the employees to take a leadership role in identifying the discarded products and develops it better, more efficient processes. Employees are to be held responsible for their work and strive to improve continuously. Employees get an opportunity to develop new skills when the Six Sigma philosophy is used. Employees apply these skills in other functions when there is a need by the organization, which helps the business to be efficient as well.

Better workflow: The other benefit Six Sigma has on the company is that it creates a better workflow. It eliminated the steps in the production or service providing process that are unnecessary and improves those who are lazy or do not any work. As a result employees are able to do their work efficiently and successfully every time. There is time saving in the completion of work. Once Six Sigma has been incorporated any non value added activities no longer exist and workloads are also manageable.

Reasons Of Implementation Of Lean Six Sigma In The Organization

The term “lean Six Sigma” provides a strong combination of lean manufacturing approach and Six Sigma. There is not of much difference in the two concepts in their outlook and methods, or their application and goals. The term lean Six Sigma works on the philosophy of increasing speed by focusing on waste reduction. As a result of the lean applications is shown in the improvement of quality and on reduced processing time and costs. The combination of Six Sigma with lean manufacturing augments short term results with power of comprehensive changes. The end result is lean Six Sigma.

The reasons for implementing Lean Six Sigma in an organization are as follows:

Lean Six Sigma only works across industry sectors: The lean manufacturing was earlier developed as a quality control as a quality management tool with a manufacture centric approach, of late industries across the globe has widely accepted and successfully implemented the seamless lean sigma tool. The statement saying that lean sigma cannot be applied to non manufacturing sectors does not hold true anymore.

Lean Six Sigma results in immediate functional improvements: Implementation of Six Sigma results in faster-than-expected reduction of production and costs. The main reason of the expected reduction of production and costs is because of the application of tools like KAIZEN (it is method of constantly analyzing process flow and its application), KANBAN (it helps in pulling up production), and POKA-YOKE (proofing of mistake).

Helps create value for customers: The combined application of lean manufacturing and Six Sigma results in tangible and true value creation for consumers. Consumers involved in product and services enjoy better experiences in terms of utility increase and reduction in prices. Mostly of the organizations are showing an inclination to implement lean Six Sigma for the required reasons as it helps in improving the bottom lines.

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Practicality of execution of Six Sigma: Lean Six Sigma helps in the transformation of the organization by creating the important linkage between strategic priorities and the improvement in the organizations. The goals set up by the top management team for higher returns on investment and improved customer experiences are the main clue for strategic priorities.

Focus on sustainable management capability: The approach on lean Six Sigma is highly sustainable which is being woven into every aspects of business, and this leads to the creation of the sustainability from top down. Sustainability results from the fast realization of tangible benefits of the implementation of the program.

By the implementation of the lean Six Sigma approach, the organizations have realized time and again that is possible to streamline their operations and to create value for both management and the customers alike. Even the bottom lines of companies have scoured with the successful of lean Six Sigma. Due to the implementation of the lean sigma into many companies it has created an enormous value for its champions. Organizations are accepting the lean Six Sigma approach due to it implementation and results, it also provides additional value for the customer at no extra price.

Phases Of Six Sigma Implementation

There are three phase of Lean/Sig Sigma implementation which can be integrated throughout an organization’s core business operations to achieve early benefits. They are:

Phase One:-Initialization

Phase Two:-Execution

Phase Three:-Assessment

Initialization

The initialization phase states that the chief executive of the business should understand the nature of Six Sigma and how its implementation will influence the business. A series of policies, guidelines and rules must next be developed with the involvement of the deployment leader, one or more steering committees and selected corporate functions which include finance, human resources, communications and other departments.

Execution

When the initialization process is completed, the organization is ready to select the full deserving full time people, initial projects and training. Each and very project should specifically address one or more business goals which contributes to one or more core enterprise measures. Each project must be done within three to four months, so careful scoping of the topic is essential. Projects must be continually tracked and updated for line management during existing business reviews.

Assessment

When the execution process is completed, the organization goes to the assessment phase. It ensures that the key elements of the organization’s Six Sigma implementation plan are occurring in a timely fashion. It addresses any gaps in performance to guarantee timely benefit realization. to promote knowledge, discipline, accountability and alignment of management. It also helps in promoting self sustainability. Follow- on assessments is advocated and should be performed twice per year until full self sustainability is accomplished.

Advantages And Disadvantages Of Six Sigma In Hospitality Industry

Advantages

Basic concepts: The business- management strategy of Six Sigma improves quality and consistency by reducing defects in good produced. Errors are something which cannot be sold as that would dissatisfy consumers and this might lead to an increase in company’s operating costs. Six Sigma reduces the errors through the use of its statistical methods and financial targets. Most statistical methods of vary, depending on the nature of the business process , for a company to accomplish the blink of Six Sigma, the business process must limit defects to 3.4 million outputs.

Financial advantages: Six Sigma reduces the process-output variation, which increases process efficiency and reduces operating costs. Six Sigma concentrates on process improvement which helps in saving money by removing the cause of errors caused. This will to an increase in the company’s profit margin. For example – Motorola says that it has “documented over 17 billion in savings” in over 20 years of using Six Sigma.

Quality advantages: While focusing or removing all causes of errors, the Six Sigma approach improves the overall quality of the final product sold. The essential goal of Six Sigma is to extinguish the waste of resources, but customers also purchase products that work better and last longer. Companies that that implement Six Sigma successfully increase customer satisfaction and retention by providing higher- quality consumers products without raising prices, because the cost of saving aspect of this quality- control strategy.

Employee’s commitment: Implementing Six Sigma affects the organizational culture of the company and requires employee buy- in from the entire organization. Six Sigma relies more heavily on this on this commitment than most other methods, the complex statistical methods and implementation process force many companies to hire outside Six Sigma experts, which can be costly but immediately shows commitment from the organization’s upper management. The lower- level employees also need to buy into the strategy, because the Six Sigma experts will be working closely with them on a daily basis to better understand the process and possible source of errors.

Disadvantages

It leads to the lack of the outsourcing of improvements projects which leads to a lack of accountability.

Many people argue that the quality standards should be set according to the specific task or process they are related to and that setting 3.4 defects per million as a standard yardstick could actually lead to more time spent in less profitable areas.

The standardization of Six Sigma may inhibit new and creative processes and may actually stifle company growth if six sigma enthusiasts are free reign.

(CHAPTER 3): RESEARCH METHODOLOGY

Problem Statement

There has been a lot of study conducted in the field. So the main aim is to study the proper processing of six sigma in order to achieve maximum output and to reduce maximum defects; to collect information regarding the processes of the six sigma in hotel industry and conduct an overall analysis.

Area Of Study

The best practices include: –

Set stretch goals

Target touchable results

Determine proper outcomes

Proper action plan

Reduction of variation

Align projects with key goals

Involvement of the owner

Research Tool

The research is based completely on the secondary data which is been given in books and journals. The research is done completely on the processes of six sigma approach and how this process leads to the consumer satisfaction. It also focuses on reducing the defects which occurs because of lack of the fulfillment of complete sops which is laid down by a particular hotel.

The method of six sigma approach is classified under two types:-

DMADV: It basically an effective way to create new products and reduce defects. It basically includes the following steps: – Define, Measure, Analyze, Design Details and Verification.

DMAIC: It is a metric measurement of defects caused while the hotels function. It is used widely by the most of the hotels across the globe. It includes the following steps: – Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control

DMAIC will be used in this text. It will help to reduce the defects in the hotel industry regarding customer satisfaction.

(CHAPTER 4): CONCLUSION

The term ‘sigma’ is used to denominate the distribution-spread about the mean of any process. It measures the capability of the process to perform a defect – free work. A defect is anything is anything that results in customer dissatisfaction. For an organization process the Six Sigma value the metric that tell about the how well the process is performing. Higher sigma level indicates the less chances of producing errors and that leads to a better performance. This is known as the ground for the performance standards to achieve operational experience. In Six Sigma the common measurement list is called the defects per unit list where a unit can be practically a component; a piece of material, administrative form, book, distance, time frame work should be listed. Eventually, six sigma can be termed as a staying within half the expected range around the target. The six sigma approach aims at a nonstop improvement in all processes within the organization. The advantages of six sigma include reduction in defects, time cycle, work in progress etc. leading utility in excellent outcomes.

Acknowledgement

It is my pleasure to thank those who made this thesis possible. First and foremost, I would like to thank my professor, Dr. V. Balaji Venkatachalam, without whose guidance and direction this project would have been impossible. I would also like to express my gratitude towards my parents and my brother for their patience and moral support. I thank the Principal, Vice-Principal, faculty and non-teaching staff for their valued support. Special thanks to my advisor Mrs. Vidya Pathwardhan for her valuable time and informative inputs. Finally, I thank my institution Welcome Group Graduate School of Hotel Administration for allowing me to undertake this project.

Suggestion

“Tools and methodology will only get a person so far. Experience gained from the practical implementation of six sigma is priceless. A list of tips, tools and suggestions for six sigma practioners can help avoid many pitfalls of project management.” (Simon Bodie)

Some fundamental points for six sigma approach are as follows:-

Tools and methodology will only get a person so far. Experience gained from the practical implementation of Six Sigma solutions is priceless. A list of tips, tools and suggestions for Six Sigma practitioners can help avoid many pitfalls of project management.

Some fundamental points for project success are:

1. Planning project work well.

2. Determining the exact scope of the work and the required/desired outcomes.

3. Developing a proper fact-based understanding of the problem.

4. Leveraging creative tools to develop the highest quality imaginative ideas.

5. Leveraging selection tools and decision making tools to identify the most appropriate solutions.

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6. Managing stakeholders well, involving them and planning their involvement.

7. Planning and executing implementation with great care.

8. Ensuring that benefits are calculated and extracted.

9. Handing over a complete sustainable finished product to the business.

These issues can be better managed when using a proven methodology like Six Sigma.

Point 1

Planning project work well: Projects with a relatively short timeframe (e.g., three months) require a disciplined approach to planning. Just measuring a problem properly or testing a solution properly may require considerable time given that many have weekly, monthly, quarterly, annual peaks and troughs in volumes or experience. Or there may be other types of seasonal variations.

* Develop a conceptual plan for the whole project within the first week.

* In the conceptual plan, identify milestones or key events.

* Schedule future key meetings with stakeholders based upon that conceptual plan.

* Arrange these key meetings for the whole project as early as possible (e.g., within the first two weeks).

* Develop a detailed plan for the first phase within the first week.

* Avoid overcomplicating the plan. In many cases it is better to be approximately right than precisely wrong.

* By considering the tools to be used (brainstorming, affinity diagrams, etc), more accurate timeframe estimates will be possible.

* Try to imagine/estimate/guess the type of outputs that will be produced from each event. (For example, about 100 ideas from brainstorming will probably take about 15 minutes to plot into an affinity diagram.) This helps in estimating timeframes.

* Arrange all workshops and meetings for the first phase immediately or as soon as possible.

* Plan, in as much detail as practical, the subsequent phases and make sure the detailed and conceptual plan align.

* Do not put the plan in a bottom drawer, it is for daily use.

* Block out the time on a written schedule for all events, including thinking time. Avoid being driven by other people’s agendas (e.g., block out a day for planning the next phase).

Point 2

Determining the exact scope of the work and the required/desired outcomes: The scope of a project will without doubt change as the team leader or team members develop a better understanding of the problem. However, it is important that once there is a basic understanding of the problem and it has been discussed with the project sponsor, the scope should be locked in. Then that scope should only be changed with sponsor agreement and after carefully considering the pros and cons of the decision. Consider these steps:

* Create a working scope document from Day 1.

* Try to get a basic understanding of the problem as soon as possible.

* Think about the scope that would give the greatest benefit for the effort required.

* Make sure the project scope is practical. There are plenty of small initiatives that can have massive impact on business performance. Try to identify these.

* Consider who would be the best sponsor for such an initiative.

* Discuss this with a current project sponsor. Enlist their help to find the right sponsor if necessary.

* Use a simple in-scope/out-of-scope table.

* Pay particular attention to out-of-scope items.

* Make sure the scope is communicated to all key stakeholders.

Point 3

Developing a proper fact-based understanding of the problem: Obviously if project leaders do not understand the problems properly, they will be unable to fix them. The most common mistakes in this area are:

* Relying on “folk law” as the basis of understanding the problem.

* Being an intellectual snob, that is, thinking the cause of the problem is obvious.

* Taking bosses’ or sponsors’ or other key persons’ interpretation of the problem as fact.

To avoid making these mistakes, adhere to the DMAIC roadmap. A strength of DMAIC is that it produces a fact-based understanding of problems.

Points 4 and 5

Leveraging creative tools to develop the highest quality imaginative ideas, and leveraging selection tools and decision-making tools to identify the most appropriate solutions: Once the problem is properly understood, the next job is to find a good solution. The most common mistakes made in this area are:

* Jumping on the first idea as the optimal solution.

* Accepting “folk law” ideas as viable solutions.

* Thinking that the solution to the problem is obvious and not exerting any effort to identify alternatives.

* Taking your bosses’ or sponsors’ or other key persons’ ideas for solutions as the best ones.

Avoid making these mistakes by:

* Adhering to the DMAIC roadmap – another strength of the DMAIC methodology is in the development and selection of ideas.

* Leveraging the toolkit for idea generation and idea selection tools.

* Avoiding silent brainstorming.

* Using a warm up “non-work” brainstorm prior to generating ideas in work-focused brainstorms.

* Applying brainstorming rules rigorously – especially the “no judgment” rule.

* Inviting cross sections of people to the brainstorm session, including “wild card” invitees.

* Reviewing and using lateral thinking techniques (as developed by Edward de Bono).

o Exploring ideas known to be wrong to see where they may lead.

o Considering ideas that at first glance appear opposed to logic.

o Planting random words into brainstorming session.

o Suggesting the opposite of the last suggestion in a brainstorming session.

* Using decision-making tools like nominal group technique to quickly reduce the options.

* Trusting the idea generation and selection process.

Point 6

Managing stakeholders well, involving them and planning their involvement: A project’s stakeholder group will play a significant role in the success or failure of the project. Failure to manage the stakeholder group properly is the No. 1 non-technical cause of project failure. Common mistakes include:

* Failing to identify a significant key stakeholder(s).

* Underestimating the power and influence of a stakeholder(s).

* Failing to identify a negative stakeholder(s).

* Failing to develop a proper management plan for stakeholders.

* Ignoring stakeholder issues.

* Doing whatever stakeholders want.

Avoid these mistakes by:

* Taking stakeholder management very seriously.

* Involving others to help identify stakeholders.

* Making stakeholder identification part of every meeting.

* Encouraging the project team to be frank about the nature of stakeholders.

* Treating stakeholders with respect, but not being driven by them.

* Developing individual management plans for key stakeholders that represent any type of risk or opportunity.

Point 7

Planning and executing implementation with great care: The implementation of change is often the most poorly managed phase of any project. This is clearly the most important phase as it is the phase where ideas come to life and the benefits start to be realized. Failure to implement an idea properly makes all prior work appear futile. It is irrelevant how good an idea is if it is not implemented properly.

Common mistakes here are:

* Attempting to implement fanciful solutions that cannot or do not work in the real world.

* Poor planning (e.g., failing to take into account that to train 1,000 call center staff might take many months and cost millions of dollars).

* Failing to understand the magnitude of the task.

* Avoiding consideration of details.

Avoid these mistakes by:

* Planning thoroughly and in great detail.

* Involving supervisors and line staff in the planning.

* Testing implementation methods and tools prior to implementation.

* Involving training, human resources and business leaders in support of the implementation.

Point 8

Ensuring that benefits are calculated and extracted: Understanding the benefits of a project improvement is extremely important. Apart from the obvious importance to the company’s financial performance, benefits also can be a powerful tool to use in stakeholder management. Understanding benefits can be difficult, extracting those benefits can be even more difficult. If the benefits of an improvement cannot be identified, then one can only conclude that the change being proposed is not an improvement at all. Therefore do not implement it.

It is worth remembering that it is impossible to have an improvement that does not have a financial benefit.

Common mistakes in this area include:

* Being unwilling to make estimates.

* Being unwilling to take on the hard tasks (manual counts, grunt work, etc.) that are required to gather the required statistics.

* Being unable to find the information required.

* Being unwilling to facilitate, encourage, coerce others to assist in these efforts.

* Calculating theoretical benefits but not having agreement about benefit extraction.

* Accepting stakeholders’ politically drive explanations regarding why a particular benefit is not achievable.

Avoid these mistakes by:

* Making estimates early. This is a good way of encouraging involvement and feedback. (It is interesting how enthusiastic people get about proving someone wrong.)

* Building time into the project plan to gather benefits information and to calculate benefits.

* Building time into the project plan to plan benefit extraction.

* Building milestones into the plan where benefit estimates will be updated – and keep to it.

* Attaching confidence levels (or ranges) to estimates (e.g., $100k per annum, +/- $60k).

* Making sure the sponsor and other key stakeholders know the level of confidence in all estimates.

* Working closely with stakeholders to develop benefit extraction plans.

* Challenging stakeholders when explanations do not make sense.

* Being creative about how benefits are accessed.

* Spending time identifying who has the information the project requires.

* Being prepared to manually take samples, gather information, etc.

Point 9

Handing over a complete sustainable finished product to the business: In order to close the project, the project team will need to have a finished product that can be sustained by the business without the special intervention of the project manager or project team.

Common mistakes here include:

* Handing over an incomplete product because the project budget has run out.

* Letting the project timeline slip, and therefore not allowing sufficient time for this part of the project.

* Not agreeing on how to execute the handover to the business.

* Failing to recognize the tasks involved.

Avoid these mistakes by:

* Following the Six Sigma DMAIC methodology for the Control phase.

* Ensuring the project meets its deadlines.

* Building into the plan sufficient time for this phase.

* Working closely with the managers and supervisors of the areas impacted by the project.

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